Editor’s note: This is a guest post from one of CrossFit Toronto’s members, Ekaterina Solovieva

Obstacle racing is fairly new sport that has been taking the planet by the storm. Athletes run across rugged terrain, overcoming obstacles from barbed wire to sand bag carry to monkey bars.

A perfect marriage of trail running and CrossFit training, it’s a tamer version of extreme sports – just enough adrenaline in mostly controlled environment.

Notice that obstacle racing is not the same as adventure racing, although the two are sometimes confused. The latter has been around for a while, and usually combines orienteering, mountain biking, kayaking and other sports.

The big three names in the world of obstacle racing:

1. Warrior Dash

Warrior Dash

Warrior Dash

Warrior Dash is one of the biggest events in the industry, and is often presented as a gateway drug to the sport. A typical course is about 4-5km and can be completed by most without too much training.

Obstacles include jumping over junk cars, and climbing over hay bales with a mandatory mud slide in the end. This is definitely the one to check out if you have never done an obstacle race, and want to get your feet (or in this case, your whole body) wet.


2. Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder offers a 10-12 mile course of obstacles, challenging participants to overcome most common fears. For example, those afraid of heights may have to jump into the water from a 15 foot drop, while those with a fear of tight spaces will challenge themselves by crawling through a tight pitch black tunnel.

An average participant will take three to four hours to complete this event. This is also not a race, it’s a challenge. Participants are not timed, but instead encouraged to concentrate on the team aspect of the event, helping each other at overcoming obstacles.

Over a million participants have now earned their orange headbands. Did you know that Monday is the Wear Your Orange Headband to Work day? You may see glimpses of orange on your way to work if a Tough Mudder took place near your city over the weekend. This past weekend thousands of Mudders faced the cold weather at the Moonstone Skiing Resort, completing a 16km obstacle course in windy, rainy and snowy (!) conditions.

3. Spartan Race

Spartan Race

Spartan Race

Spartan Race is probably the most competitive of the lot, and currently the only series with its own point system across races. Three distances are usually offered:

  1. Spartan Sprint is a shorter 3-5 mile course;
  2. Spartan Super requires more endurance at 8-10 miles;
  3.  and finally, not for the faint of heart, Spartan Beast is a half marathon distance obstacle race, boasting over 13 miles of challenging trails, and physically demanding obstacles.


Every year more and more events are being created. For example, you may have also heard names such as Mud Hero, Urban Warrior and others. If you would like to learn more about this sport, I’d encourage you to sign up for an event. Given the amount of various events taking place, there is definitely something out there for everyone.

Refer to a detailed schedule of obstacle racing events taking place around GTA this summer here:

Want to take your obstacle race training to the next level?

Train with us at CrossFit Toronto – Toronto’s first and Canada’s second CrossFit gym.


About the author:

Solo is a health coach and a competitive obstacle racer, who loves life and loves sharing with others how to live theirs (better). Follow her adventures at www.solovieva.com

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